BELLE CHASSE, LA (WVUE) - Less than a month before HOV Services signed a lucrative contract with the Plaquemines Parish School Board, the New Orleans Recovery School District let the same company's $1 million construction management contract with HOV expire.
The RSD hired HOV to supervise a modular school construction project.
, "HOV failed to properly manage this complex construction.” The RSD decided not to “renew" the contract.
Still, weeks later, the Plaquemines Parish School Board hired that same company, HOV Services, to manage its complex construction projects for post-Katrina construction.
According to the Plaquemines Parish School Board, they received seven bids. The cheapest and highest scorer had "unfavorable references,“ so they threw out that bid - and awarded the contract to the second-ranked company, HOV Services.
When construction finally wraps up, HOV will make over $20.2 million, 14 percent of the total construction costs. In nearby St. Bernard Parish, their construction manager earned 2.5 percent of construction costs; in Jefferson Parish, 4.5 percent.
Contractor Pete Vicari is building a school in Belle Chasse; his work is being overseen by HOV.
“This is ridiculous,” he told us while discussing HOV's high hourly rates. “I wouldn't allow this. I mean, I can't justify it.”
Those rates that HOV has charged taxpayers include $185 an hour for a project manager, $180 for a scheduler, $180 for a documents control manager and $120 an hour for an administrative assistant. All the rates were approved by FEMA.
“We haven't had anything denied,” Plaquemines School Superintendent Denis Rousselle told us. “And look, we scrutinize it. We look at it, we turn it in, our FEMA and GOHSEP get back with us, and they approve it.”
But here's an interesting comparison. HOV signed its contract in Plaquemines Parish in May 2008. Another company, Jacobs, signed a similar contract with the Recovery School District just a few months earlier. That contract includes hourly billing rates for some personnel assigned additional services.
HOV bills $205 an hour for a director of operations. Jacobs' rate for an operations manager is just $161. HOV charges $185 dollars for a project engineer; Jacobs, $75. HOV charges $180 for a documents control manager; Jacobs, $56. And HOV bills $120 an hour for an administrative assistant. Jacobs has two rates, $67 and $49 an hour.